Friday, December 28, 2018

The Illustrated Atlas of Architecture and Marvelous Monuments

Photo staging credit: T
Illustration by Alexandre Verhille and Sarah Tavernier from 
The Illustrated Atlas of Architecture and 
Marvelous Monuments, Copyright Little Gestalten 2016
By Alexandre Verhille and Sarah Tavernier
Translated from the French by Noelia Hobeika
Published in September, 2016

Why we chose this book:
T and I both dove into architecture books when the summer reading theme was "Build a Better World." The fascination has remained, but the quantity of architecture books we read has waned. From the cover and description, I anticipated that this would be enthralling. Little Gestalten provided a copy for review.

Mom's Review

An eye-catching atlas of astounding architecture. It is incredible!

Divided into geographic regions, The Illustrated Atlas presents brightly colored maps with select buildings shown alongside many numbered circles. On the next pages, each numbered building from the map is illustrated and accompanied by a few notable facts, the architect, the city and country, and the building dates. The scope is wide, the content fascinating, and anyone with an interest in architecture will be over the moon!

T and I both learned, and will continue to learn, from this oversize picture book. The content is not overwhelming, but ample enough to return to time and time again. I could pour over each page, but T is more interested in flipping back and forth. Some structures we recognized, like the leaning tower of Pisa, the Sydney Opera House, and Angkor Wat. Most were new, and now I want to travel. And I want to travel now! I would particularly like to visit The Great Mosque in Tanzania, which is "the oldest mosque to be found on the East African coast," and I'd like to walk the "320 feet of red curves" leading up to the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Brazil. So many incredible buildings, too many to visit in a lifetime, but this book allows one to dream (and it inspires further reading).

T was excited to learn about the buildings that Lightening McQueen and Mater visit in his Golden Book, Travel Buddies, and that Big Anthony visits in Big Anthony: His Story. The leaning tower of Pisa features in several of his books, actually, and he was excited to learn about "the real one!" from this book. I have some kitschy nicknacks in my office, including the Eiffel Tower, Neuschwanstein castle, and the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed. T was likewise gleeful when he recognized these structures in the book, and matched the models to the illustrations. I think he was most enthusiastic about making personal connections to The Illustrated Atlas. When I asked him about a favorite, he first selected the Sydney Opera House, but then jumped around the world, selecting whatever caught his eye. I guess we have the same problem - with so many incredible creations, how do you select a favorite?

Son's Review
(Age: almost 4)
Illustration by Alexandre Verhille and Sarah Tavernier from
The Illustrated Atlas of Architecture and
Marvelous Monuments
, Copyright Little Gestalten 2016
Mom: What was something that excited you?

Son: What was exciting was that I got to see the tipping tower of Pisa.

Mom: Would you want to visit any of these buildings?

Son: Yeah. I'll show you what I would want to visit. This one [Sydney Opera House].

Mom: It took fifteen years to make!

Son: I wouldn't think it would take so long. I would think it would take fifteen months to make it.

Mom: So is this your favorite building?

Son: Yeah.

Mom: If you could meet the architect of the Sydney Opera House, Jorn Utzon, what would you say to him?

Son: "When I grow up, I'm gonna be a Notre Dame player." Since builders don't know about playing football, I'll tell him about playing football.

Mom: Would you want to build a building or a monument?

Son: A sculpture and a building. I would make a sculpture of a guy sticking his tongue out and waving his arms. Then I would build a building and I would open the door and put the sculpture inside.

Mom: What did you like learning?

Son: What I liked learning was that Mozart got married at Stephansdom.

Mom: I want to learn more about how they built buildings in the sea, like the Hassan II Mosque. What would you like to learn more about?

Son: I would also like to learn more about it. Why did the building on the sea and not on the land? Did they stand in the water or did they stand on land?

Mom: What do you think is the most important thing to know about this book?

Son: The most important thing to know about this book is that it's mainly about buildings. The most important thing to know about this book is that it's a great thing to travel to all these places.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Hidden Critters: Can You Find Them All?


By Stan Tekiela
Published October 9, 2018

Why we chose this book:
T has been increasingly interested in seek-and-find pictures, and we have been seeking our own "hidden critters" out the back window: deer, turkeys, porcupines...So when we saw this, and saw the author, we were interested. Adventure Publications provided a review copy.
Other books we've enjoyed by Stan Tekiela are Super Animal Powers, What Eats That?, and Whose Baby Butt? 

Mom's Review

We've been playing our own "Hidden Critters:
Can You Find Them?" game out the back window.
See the buck peeking out from behind the tree?
A real-life seek-and-find that includes interesting facts about each hidden critter.

Nature photographs show a habitat in which an animal is hidden. The reader is given a few hints about the animal's identity and then invited to find it; the following page introduces the animal through closeup photographs and informational text, the content and length of which is ideal for younger children (4 to 8 or so). Back matter elaborates on each animal, for older children and other interested parties (like me). Coolest thing I learned? Polar bears' fur is clear; it only appears white!

I really am becoming quite enamored with the wildlife books offered by Adventure Publications, and Hidden Critters strengthens that opinion. A comfortable balance between familiar and lesser known animals is presented; T excitedly shouted, "There's the deer!" before I could even read the hints on that page, and he was also curious to learn about the animals he didn't recognize, like the weasel. I have a feeling there will be more weasel books in our future. We also both liked that this seek-and-find presented real environments where we might actually see the animals (see photo above, for example). We've been keeping our eyes open for animals in the yard, so Hidden Critters is good practice for us! Furthermore, the information provided is engaging for both of us; we both have a better understanding of some of the animals living near us, as well as those distant. Between the two of us, the favorite animals include the bullfrog, the weasel, the polar bear, the deer, and the flying squirrel. T told me that he wishes he could fly like a flying squirrel, and I hadn't realized that they were nocturnal. We also were really interested in how the praying mantis hunts, and now we want to read more about what eats bullfrogs. All in all, we both learned, had fun, and are inspired to investigate nature further!

If your kiddo likes seek-and-finds or animals, then I would highly recommend Hidden Critters. It is so much more than just spotting an object in a picture!

Son's Review
(Age: almost 4)
T's new LEGO dinosaur sat with us to read. As soon as we closed the book, this exchange ensued:
Son: When he hunts he's fierce and quick. And he blends in really nicely with leaves. Who am I? And he roars a terrible roar. RRRRROARRRR!

Mom: T. Rex!

Son: You got it right!
________________________________________________

Mom: I liked that it's real animals and it shows them where they really hide. I might see animals when I look out in the woods. My favorite page is the deer because we sometimes see deer, and this buck reminds me of the one we see in our yard. Do you like the book?

Son: Pretty yes.

Mom: What do you like?

Son: I like finding all the things since it was pretty super duper hard.
(He did find some animals almost immediately, which belies this assessment.)

Mom: Did you have a favorite animal that you had to find?

Son: Um, I'll show you. It's...I'm flipping through pages...This! [polar bear]

Mom: What did you like about the polar bear?

Son: It was cold.

Mom: I also liked that I got to learn things I didn't know about the animals. Did you have a favorite thing you learned?

Son: I liked that the polar goes out and it likes to eat when it is cold.

Mom: The weasel was my favorite animal. I'd like to see one. Would you want to see any of these animals in real life?

Son, flipping pages: Yes. I would want to see this one [the weasel] and I wanted to see this [the flying squirrel]. These things are cute! That's my favorite thing. It didn't seem regular so I liked it.

Mom: What do you mean that it doesn't seem regular?

Son: It didn't seem regular because it's called a flying squirrel but it doesn't really actually fly. What eats a flying squirrel?

Mom: Probably anything that can. I would guess owls. Could you tell me what you liked the best about this book?
(I checked, and they do have lots of predators.)

Son: That the book told us all about the animals. I liked the flying squirrels. They are super duper cute. They just are.


Friday, December 21, 2018

Fun in the Mud: A Wetlands Tale


Written by Sally Bolger
Illustrated by Regina Shklovsky
Published November 20, 2018

Why we chose this book:
As a fun way to learn about an environment we don't know about. (And T has been having fun playing outside, so the title caught my eye initially.) Roundtree Press provided a review copy.

Mom's Review

Fun in the Mud sparks enthusiasm about the natural world.

A child looking at the wetlands in boredom meets two fairies who introduce him/her to the wonders of this environment. (The child's gender is ambiguous, open to the audience's interpretation.) The fairies, Jack and Mini, declare their love of the wetlands, explaining how they swim with the smolts, sing with the frogs, listen to the birds, and soak up the saltwater until their skin sparkles. Their wonder and joy is palpable. We could not help but yearn to visit wetlands ourselves. This is a perfect pairing of prose and pictures - the illustrations' style and color evoke the seashore and coast while the story entertains and instructs. And when you take the book jacket off (as T always insists we do), drawings of flora and fauna await you.

Before I started reading this to T, I explained that part of this is true and part is made up, and I asked him if he could point out the differences as we read. He was excited to be able to identify the fictional fairies and tall tales told by the birds, and then the real frogs, wetlands, rain, etc. In fact, he was so enthusiastic about this, that he pointed out to me and his dad that, "Some parts are real and some parts are made up," before the next several reads, and then went on to explain which was which as we read (unsolicited). T likes magical creatures, so we had fun imagining what we would do if we met fairies in nature. He also likes nature and animals, so we had fun talking about when we might visit wetlands and what we would like to see there. He and I both learned about wetland habitats, and we would like to learn more. This is a new topic for us and we will be seeking out further books. Fun in the Mud is great for conversation, great for learning, and great for imagination!


As I was trying to stage a picture with him, T
instead matched his fairy to those in the book.
Better than my plan!
Son's Review
(Age: almost 4)

Son: My favorite part is the wetlands.

Mom: What part of the wetlands is your favorite?

Son: The frogs!

Mom: What do you like about the frogs?

Son: I like that they're hoppy!

Mom: We saw a  few different things in here: fairies, frogs, smolts... What's real?

Son: Frogs.

Mom: What about the fairies?

Son: No. They're made up.

Mom: What if they were real and you saw one?

Son: I'd ask if they're friendly or not.

Mom: Would you want to go to the wetlands? What would you want to see?

Son: Yeah! Make-believe fairies, trees, frogs, worms, and birds. Because they would tell me stories when the tide comes in.

Mom: I would want to see the grass as it soaks up the salt water and the salt comes out on its leaves. If you were a bird what would you talk about?

Son: Tweeting. Nothing else.

Mom: What was your favorite thing you learned about the wetlands?

Son: If the wind is just so, and you find a quiet place to sit, and you hear wings and little feet, and if the tide is just right, and if you're very lucky, then you may catch a glimpse of a wetland fairy.

Mom: Wow! You remembered the words so well! Was there something real you liked?

Son: The smolts!
(These are young salmon.)

Mom: Did you like this book?

Son: Yes.

Mom: How did this book make you feel as you read it?

Son, screaming: GOOD!!!

Mom: Was there a part that made you feel the most good?

Son: Where they hold on to the fishes' tails.

Mom: Would you want to do that if you were a fairy?

Son: No. Yeah.

Mom: If you could meet these fairies, would you want to be friends with them? What would you like to do with Jack and Mini? What would be the most fun?

Son: Yeah. Do fun stuff. Putting stockings on our heads.
(Yep, it's Christmastime. We have stockings out. They get worn by T.)

Mom: Is there anything else that you want to say?

Son: Yes. That I like the wetlands!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

There's an Elephant in My Bathtub Giveaway and Review





Giveaway Link Below! :)


Written by Connie Bowman
Illustrated by Kelly O'Neill
Published December 10, 2018

Why we chose this book:

The opportunity to participate in the blog tour for this book arose, so I talked with T about it. I told him a bit about the book and showed him the cover, and he said he really wanted to read and review it! A review copy was provided as part of this blog tour.

Mom's Review

A father cleans up his child's stuffed animals, imagining them to be real.

Most of There's an Elephant in My Bathtub is a father's apostrophe to his son, whom we meet at the conclusion. He tells how he found an elephant in the bathroom, a gorilla in the kitchen, and a camel in his study, among others. Each time, he invites the animal to follow him to the child's room. After numerous creatures are corralled in the child's bedroom, the child is advised to peek through the door before entering. When he opens the door, we see him and his father (who wears safari gear) entering a jungle-like environment filled with the animals. Only on the last page do we see the child tucked into bed with a collection of stuffed animals; parent and child have imagined them to be real.

What I like so much about this book is the depiction of an adult's imagination in the absence of a child. Even though the child is at school (I assume this based on the uniform-like attire), the father maintains the fiction of the toys' lives; then together they resume their safari game. Now, this is purely my interpretation. Since more of a frame is not specified, the audience is free to speculate the fun and games that the father and son share. T and I could both relate to this, as his stuffed animals and toys are often attributed consciousness. And precisely because we could relate to the story, it became a springboard for conversation about his toys. Are they alive like in Toy Story? Do I play with them when I clean up? Did I think my toys were alive as a kid? Are the animals in the story really real? Although the parent in the book is male, the outrageous mustache leaves the reader feeling like he isn't a real, particular individual, but rather a representation of an adult caretaker. An adult could easily identify with him, and a child could easily replace him with their own adult.

The impression that There's an Elephant in My Bathtub leaves is there are no limits on imagination, and there is great joy to be found in make-believe.

(And it made me feel better about telling Jesse, Woody, and Buzz, "There you go, back in the playroom now," when I put them away.)

Son's Review

(Age: 3 and 1/2 years old)

Son: They were really his buddies. You know, that's kind of like Toy Story.
("Buddies" is the term in our home for stuffed animals.)

Mom: How so?

Son: Because they're all alive and in Toy Story all the toys are alive and at the end he is snuggling them and that's kind of like Toy Story because Andy didn't know his toys were real so he played with them.

Mom: I had thought the animals were real the whole time. I didn't expect them to be buddies.

Mom: What did you like?

Son: I liked that all those different animals got told to go to the bedroom.

Mom: Did you like the daddy? Would you want to play with him?

Son: I like how he pretends. I would!


Giveaway:

Enter to win a copy of There’s an Elephant in My Bathtub by Connie Bowman, and a menagerie of stuffed animals!


Enter Here: https://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/weblog/2018/12/theres-an-elephant-in-my-bathtub-by-connie-bowman-awareness-tour.html


One (1) winner receives:
An autographed copy of There’s an Elephant in My Bathtub
AND
A menagerie of stuffed animals, as featured in the prize image

Nine (9) winners will receive:
An autographed copy of There’s an Elephant in My Bathtub
Giveaway begins December 1, 2018, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends December 31, 2018, at 11:59 P.M. PST.
Giveaway open to residents of Canada and the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older.

Connie Bowman is responsible for prize fulfillment.

Extras:
Video: Cute Broadway/Youtube video version of the book
         
Author's website: http://conniebowman.com/
Buy the book on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Q1eNNF

Disclosure:
Per FTC guidelines, I disclose partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Connie Bowman.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Mina vs. The Monsoon



Written by Rukhsanna Guidroz
Illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta
Published December 1, 2018

Why we chose this book:
Instagram. I saw an image posted by Yali Books for an upcoming publication that was absolutely stunning. So, I wanted to know what the book was, then what Yali Books was. They are a children's book publisher focusing on South Asia. If you've followed me this far, then you know how I value books featuring characters of different backgrounds. And if you're a new reader, I hope you'll find some new favorites and enjoy our recommendations for books that foster intercultural understanding and appreciation. Yali Books provided a review copy.

Mom's Review

When the monsoon keeps Mina indoors and off the soccer field, she finds that her mother shares her passion for the sport, and that celebrating the monsoon and soccer needn't be mutually exclusive.

Where to start? Mina vs. The Monsoon has so much to offer! Upon first look, we see a story about a girl who feels that her mother doesn't understand her love of soccer. Her mother encourages her to celebrate the monsoon instead of focusing on her disappointment at being indoors. When Mina uncovers her mother's childhood soccer jersey, the two finally bond over a shared love of soccer. They celebrate the monsoon with samosas and a muddy soccer game.

Looking at another aspect, we can see a bit of life in a northern village in India; milk is delivered by bicycle, rain falls on a tin roof, and peacocks screech outside. All of this is simply background; I didn't point out differences, but I did ask T if he noticed anything different between how he and Mina live. He could find no significant differences, but he did point out that he likes her clothes, especially what she wears when she tries to dance the rain away.  T has been to Diwali celebrations at our local museum, so has seen multiple Indian dance performances; we were able to relate Mina's dancing to those dancers and to his own dancing. Readers can easily identify with Mina. It doesn't matter that she lives half a world away from us, her feelings and activities are the same as those of children everywhere, including T.

Mina vs. The Monsoon is an easily relatable story about a child's love of soccer that will resonate with readers in any country. Oh, and the art is awesome. I love the peacocks!

Son's Review
(Age: 3 and 1/2 years)

While reading:
Mom: Mina's elephant seems to help her. What helps you when you're upset?

Son: Doing something that's my favorite. That will ease away my upsetty.
_________________________________
Mom: Mina gets her milk delivered. Are there any deliveries that you like?

Son: The mail delivery, so I always get to see what kind of mail we get.
_________________________________
Mom: Do you like to dance? When?

Son: Sometimes. Ummm. Pretty much after dinner when we are cleaning up from the dinner.
_________________________________
Mom: She likes to play soccer every day. Is there something that you like to do every day?

Son: Pretty much after dinner every day I like to lie down with you and do a snuggle. Snuggly buggly.

After reading:
Mom: What if Mina were real? Would you want to be friends with her?

Son: Yeah. And I would tell her, "You can't stop the rain. The rain just goes and goes until it stops."

Mom: What would you want to do together?

Son: Put on my rain suit with her. We would both put on our rain suits. We would go outside in the rain. I would make mud cakes. They are fun.

Mom: Is there something you notice that is different from how we live?

Son: I only know she lives in India and we live in the United States. That's the only thing that's different.

Mom: Did you have a favorite part of the story?

Son: Can you show me the dancing picture? I think what she wears looks pretty. The different costumes she wears look pretty.

Mom: Have you ever seen dancers like these...

Son: The yimmy!
(He went to a Diwali celebration at the museum where there were several Indian dance performances.)

Son: Someday we should eat samosas. Where could we get samosas?

Mom: Udupi.

Son: What is Udupi? Is it a restaurant? I want to go to that restaurant!

Mom: Yes. And we will. Samosas are delicious!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Super Animal Powers


Written by Ryan Jacobson
Photographs by Stan Tekiela
Published October 11, 2016

Why we chose this book:
Adventure Publications included a review copy of this with a book we had requested. Superhero fan that he is, T wanted to read it immediately upon opening the box. He loves it and has had me and his Grammy read it to him innumerable times already.

Mom's Review

Jacobson and Tekiela use a fun format to teach animal superlatives and fascinating trivia.

Thanks to Super Animal Powers, the whole family now knows which animal can shoot blood out of its eyes (the horned lizard), and just how far T could shoot blood out of his eyes, if he had that power (across the living room). Did you also know that the dung beetle is the strongest animal for its size? And that if you had the peregrine falcon's speed, you could compete in NASCAR, without a car?

T loves everything about Super Animal Powers, and I love expanding my knowledge of curious animal characteristics. What sets this animal fact book apart from others we've read is its superhero component. A superhero with the same power as each animal is introduced, alongside an explanation of the extent of the power; it's proportional to a human, so a young audience can more easily grasp the magnitude of the animal's ability by relating it to their own. Also, at the bottom of each page there is an "Up next" preview about which T is enthusiastic; he insists that we always read it and loves to guess which animal comes next. Sometimes I can't resist being obnoxious and shouting out, "I know! I know!" That's what he gets if I have to read it back to back. ;) Who else likes to annoy their kids on occasion? We aren't too formal or serious in this house!

Son's Review 
(Age: 3 and 1/2 years)
We have a guest reviewer participating on this one, T's Grammy.

Grammy: Owls! You have those at the EcoTarium, don't you? They look furry.

Son: Um-hm. They look cute!

Grammy: The horned lizard -

Son, interrupting: Shoots blood out its eyes!

Grammy: What impressed you the most?

Son: The dung beetle. Both kids of bugs in there [dung beetle and tarantula]. And my other favorite guy is the one that shoots blood from its eyes. The chameleon.

Grammy: That's a horned lizard. I wonder where horned lizards live; I hope they don't live near me.

Son: I hope they don't live near us!

Grammy: Do you like the pictures?

Son: Yes. That one of the dung beetle. That looks like surely a superhero!

Mom: Which power would you want?

Son: I would like to be this one [the horned lizard]. So I could shoot it across the house!

Grammy: Who do you wish were in your woods?

Son: I'll tell you which one I'd want to be. The dung beetle. The horned lizard. I wish the horned lizard lived around here. I'd bring it inside so it would make a big mess for my mommy to clean up!
(Someone thinks he's being funny. Payback I guess for my previous obnoxiousness!)


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Children and the Whale



By Daniel Frost
Published in Europe: August 2018
International publication: November 6, 2018

Why we chose this book:
To read about children and animals in a setting quite different from our own. The more we read about this diverse world, the more we can understand and appreciate it! Little Gestalten provided a review copy.

Mom's Review

Incredibly beautiful pictures set in the Arctic - two children, icebergs, and Arctic fauna - accompany a powerful story of love and strength.

Around the fire one night, a father tells about seeing a bone-breaking creature who lives in the sea; although it has been decades since the last sighting, the son, Cuno, is determined to find this whale. When Cuno tires of watching the sea from a chunk of ice offshore, he takes his father's kayak to search further from home. His little sister, Aia, stows away, and Cuno is heartily displeased to find her. Even so, he panics when they become separated, feeling guilt and responsibility for his younger sibling. Miraculously, the whale appears, pushing the chunk of ice on which Aia is stuck. The whale guides them both home, and their bond is repaired.

The Children and the Whale tells a story of a boy who wants to spot the whale from his father's story, but must contend with a pesky little sister. Within this frame, the readers are treated to images of children who are at home in the snow, or kayaking among icebergs, or even exploring on their own. The implication that these young people are responsible and resourceful enough to be outside unsupervised speaks to a trust that I often feel is lacking in my everyday life. While I do think T is far too young to be kayaking in the Arctic, alone or otherwise, I do recognize the importance of independence. Allowing exploration of nature within safe parameters is something that I am trying to do more and more of myself. I don't have to be right next to him. It really is okay for him to hit a tree with a stick ten feet away from me while I rearrange rocks in our yard! And that is something that this book has me thinking about as an adult.

The other striking aspect of this book is the relationship between the brother and sister. At first we see a stereotypical little-sister-annoys-big-brother scenario. Once Aia is confronted with real danger, however, Cuno immediately regrets his treatment of her and is heartbroken by what happened. In the end, after the whale returns them home, we see that they are side by side and we are told that they watch for the whale together: a stark contrast to the start. This depiction of sibling dynamics may resonate with children who sometimes disagree with their brother or sister but love them unconditionally, even if not admittedly. Moreover, it reinforces the idea of positive sibling dynamics.

Son's Review
(Age: 3 and 1/2 years)

Son: I think their father is gonna be surprised since it didn't break their bones. It led them home.

Mom: I think so, too. I really liked seeing how they lived in a different place. What are they wearing?

Son: Arctic clothes.

Mom: That's right. And what kind of temperature do you think it is outside? Do you ever look like them?

Son: Cold. When I'm wearing my snow gear, yes.

Mom: Would you want to play with Cuno and Aia? What would you do with them?

Son: Yeah. Pretty much just explore with them.

Mom: Would you chase the whale like they did?

Son: Yeah.

Mom: If you could go hunting to see any animal, what would it be? Why would you want to see a dolphin?

Son: Mainly just a little dolphin. Because they're cute.

Mom: Do you have any advice for Cuno or Aia?

Son: My igvice is, "Don't be so mean to the green one."

Mom: That one's Aia. [She's dressed in a green snowsuit.]

Son: Don't be so mean to Aia.

Mom: What did you learn from this book?

Son: I learned that it's a bad thing to be mean to other people.

Mom: How did this book make you feel?

Son: I felt kinda sad because [Cuno] was being mean to that one [Aia]. I want to read it again. Did you really like it?

Mom: I did!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Quiet Wyatt


Written by Tammi Sauer
Illustrated by Arthur Howard
Published September 25, 2018

Why we chose this book:
Since T was 2, his dad has been telling him stories about a character named Quiet Wyatt. He is not the same as the title character, but this title sure caught my attention. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt provided a review copy.

Mom's Review

A little boy steps outside his comfort zone to follow his conscience.

Quiet Wyatt is about a little boy who prefers the quiet. On a school trip, he is paired with Noreen, the self-proclaimed "Queen of Nature," who is anything but that. Because this is fiction, we can laugh at her antics. Wyatt quietly suffers through her attempts to trail blaze (through poison ivy), paddle a canoe (and drench him), and cast a fishing line (and snare only Wyatt). From the illustrations, he seems uncomfortable, but does nothing. Finally, when Noreen precipitates a rock slide with her singing, Wyatt must speak up or see her injured. Until this point, Wyatt has remained inside his comfort-zone of "quiet," whether it has truly been comfortable or not. At this point, however, he finds his voice. Wyatt warns Noreen, saves her with his expert ninja moves, and finds a happy balance between quietly remaining unnoticed and interacting with a new friend. The final depiction of Wyatt shows a happy child who has remained true to his introvert personality while appreciating the company of another.

The infusion of humor to this presentation of an introvert coping with an extrovert sweetens the message that risk-taking can be a good thing. It is only through speaking loudly (the risk) that Wyatt saves Noreen (a good thing). This is uncomfortable for him, as has his entire day with Noreen. How do we deal with discomfort? When is it good? When is it bad? While Quiet Wyatt does not necessarily answer these questions directly, it does a good job of showing one child's experience. From that, readers can extrapolate how they might benefit from trying new things, engaging with different individuals, or not. Readers may also view Wyatt's initial passivity as a poor example of how to respond to another person's actions. Overall, Quiet Wyatt is a fun read with many possible points of more serious discussion.

Son's Review
a moderately successful attempt to
teach T the "shhh" signal

(Age: 3 and 1/2 years)

While reading:
Son: Some guys are going to be kicked out of the yimmy [museum].

Mom: Why?

Son: Because they are talking and they're not allowed to talk. See? It says, "Shh. Be quiet."
________________________
Son, in response to Noreen's "fishing": That's not how to cast a line!

After reading:
Mom: What doe you think about Quiet Wyatt? What's the best part?

Son: I really liked the story. I liked the part where she was taking them to poison ivy.

Mom: Would you want to be friends with Noreen or Wyatt? What would you do together?

Son: I would want to be friends with both of them. Um. do a field trip with them. Like where they goed when they did a field trip.

Mom: Do you have any advice for Noreen?

Son: I do. I would say, "Listen to what you say." In the story Noreen is not listening to what she says. She's not doing the proper thing that she says. Isn't that an uh-oh? She's leading them into the poison ivy and singing by the quiet rocks sign. Isn't that bad?

Mom: It certainly turns out bad. Are you like Wyatt at all?

Son: I think I might be because I'm so into poison ivy.
(We found some into our yard, and T is really into looking at it, pointing it out, and warning people away from it.)

Mom: Do you want to be like Wyatt in any way?

Son: Yeah. I want to stay quiet, but I don't know how. I'm like a chatterbox.
(So not the response I expected. I thought he'd want to learn ninja skills like Wyatt.)

Mom: Is there anything else?

Son: Not particularly.

Mom: Who is this a good book for?

Son: I would say it's a good book for D. because he has a friend named J. and Wyatt has a friend called Noreen. To learn what you do with a friend.

Ginny Goblin is Not Allowed to Open This Box

Written by David Goodner Illustrated by Louis Thomas Expected Publication: July 17, 2018 Why we chose this book: T loves monsters. ...